CHICAGO -- Lance Carter stood at his locker in the American League clubhouse before Tuesday night's All-Star Game just soaking up the atmosphere.
The 28-year-old rookie closer was standing, with Kansas City's Mike MacDougal to the left and Toronto's Roy Halladay to the right, amongst some of the best players in the game, seemingly unsure of his place, but happy for the experience.
"It's been fun, enjoyable," Carter said before an AL team meeting after batting practice and the team photo.
Rays manager Lou Piniella, in Chicago for the game and to kick off the "Take a Swing Against Prostate Cancer," was happy to see one of his young players rewarded with the All-Star experience.
"It's amazing, (he's had) essentially only one year of Major League Baseball and he became our closer in Spring Training. He's done a very, very respectable job. It's great for a young player to come out here and get involved in a situation like this. He should take some very good memories from this back to our clubhouse and (it should) be an added incentive for our young players to get here.
"This is a tremendous experience for one our young pitchers that's done well."
Asked if he would sit back and reflect on the game when he returns to St. Petersburg, Carter hesitated.
"We'll see how the game goes," he joked.
Despite not playing in the American League's dramatic 7-6 victory over the National League, Carter shared the excitement of one of the more dramatic All-Star Games in history.
"It was awesome," said Carter, one of six AL players (Dmitri Young, Mike MacDougal, Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia and Jason Varitek) not to play. "Coming back (from a four-run deficit), scoring runs like that, Hank (Blalock) getting his first hit as a game-winning home run.
"I knew going in some guys might not play, but that was fine. It worked out. I had a great time. The experience was great. This is a great atmosphere.
"This is an absolute zoo, I've never seen anything like this. It'd be great to see this in Tampa Bay sometime in the playoffs. Hopefully we can turn it around and get to that point."
With his appearance at U.S. Cellular Field, Carter is the seventh All-Star in the club's six Major League seasons, joining Rolando Arrojo (1998), Jose Canseco (1999-DNP), Roberto Hernandez (1999), Fred McGriff (2000), Greg Vaughn (2001-DNP) and Randy Winn (2002).
Former Rays manager Larry Rothschild, who appeared on Joe Torre's All-Star coaching staff in 2000, also served as the pitching coach for Cubs manager Dusty Baker's National League staff.
Carter was one of four rookie All-Stars (MacDougal, Hideki Matsui and Dontrelle Willis), equaling the mark (2001) for most rookies in All-Star history.
Damon P. Young is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.